Chef with a heart

Ben, or Coops, as he’s more widely known, runs a hospitality and events consultancy, and work just disappeared when COVID19 hit. He says: ‘There’s no restaurants open, no hotels that want consultancy and no events going on in the British summer. My cash cow from May until the end of September, gone. I thought shit, what do I do now? I’ve still got a mortgage, I’ve still got nursery fees, I’ve still got bills to pay.’

Coops took his son out of nursery and looks after him during the day while his wife works from home, and says: ‘It’s awesome, but I needed some money coming in, so I’ve taken a delivery job and become a key worker. It’s a 3am wake up every morning, seven days a week and non stop, but I love it. I get 10,000 steps under my belt before 8am when I’m finished and I can look after Jack.’

He decided to set up ‘Cooking with Coops‘, 1-2-1 online cooking classes to help people learn new skills or hone their existing technique to make cooking at home stress free and fun. He says: ‘That seems to be going quite well, it’s a lot of fun and people are benefiting from it. It’s just me, in my kitchen, cooking up stuff, teaching people how to cook. I taught someone in the US how to make the perfect bechamel sauce, and how to make a big Easter dinner for lots of people. She was made up.’

It was only supposed to be a tool to help drive people to his consultancy website, but it’s taken off and been quite successful. He laughs. He has a cheeky chappy London accent and is so down to earth, I can see how people are loving it. He says: ‘I just fell into it, I didn’t think it would go off. It’s just like chatting to my mates, talking bollocks with some cooking thrown in. So I guess that’s it in a nutshell; delivery driver and chef.’

He says he’s going to stick with it until he’s on the TV and I laugh, thinking he’s joking. He replies: ‘Honestly! It’s the first time I’ve actually had a goal in the forty years I’ve been on this planet. I’ve always kind of just bimbled around, doing the short con, get-cash-quick-pay-bills. I’m now investing in myself and am doing some courses to help develop the online stuff. When I do make it, I want to help out with Hospitality Action (helping hospitality people get back on their feet after a setback) and Only A Pavement Away (getting homeless people into hospitality). I can’t afford to help right now, but I will, eventually.’

He comes close to the screen and whispers. ‘Don’t tell my friends, but COVID19 has done me a lot of favours. It’s given me a kick up the bum.’

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